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Market Education Series- A Path Towards Internet of Things Enabled Service Management

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Supply Chain Matters kicks-off the first of a new market education series- A Path Towards Internet of Things Enabled Service Management, in collaboration with supply chain planning and service parts technology provider ToolsGroup.

This supply chain industry analyst is not alone in communicating the long-term implications and benefits of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies applied to multi-industry supply chain business processes.

When I speak to audiences on the future of industry supply chain capabilities, I often context that in over my 30 years of experiences and observations, what I always considered to be the “holy-grail” of our profession was the ability to connect the physical and digital components of various supply chain business processes. That vision is becoming much more of a reality as supply chain teams begin to leverage IoT data and information into planning and customer fulfillment decision-making. From my view, that reality is not the far away.  Planning 3 shutterstock 394279114 300x184 Market Education Series  A Path Towards Internet of Things Enabled Service Management

One of the most promising line-of-business areas that will benefit from IoT enabled technologies applied to supply chain will be equipment services management, especially service and spare parts management. Consider the possibilities when physical objects such as engines, motor vehicles, capital, and other forms of equipment, proactively communicate needs for required maintenance services, replenishment, or repair parts.

Consider the possibilities of far more knowledgeable insights into item-level service or spare parts product demand, more efficient and less costly multi-tier service echelon inventory management, and a more responsive services management process for your customers. A longstanding challenge in service or replenishment parts planning and management has always been the ability to forecast item-level demand when such demand is sporadic or sudden.  Now consider the opportunities to have demand-driven or predictive failure data and information emanating directly from the physical equipment.

Three to five years from today, equipment manufacturers will be communicating to investors about many of these new top-line revenue business growth areas where physical and digital interact in a more predictive service management business capability. Such capabilities insure maximum uptime for customers, supported with a super-efficient supply chain planning and resource management capability connects the physical with the digital.

This is all very possible. However, with any solid business model, there are requirements for foundational process and decision-making capabilities.  If your business or enterprise is considering such business models, now is the time to consider investments in fundamental decision-making support capabilities that can best take advantage of the implications of physical and digital coming together.

We submit one of the most fundamental investments to consider is that of a robust service parts planning and fulfillment process that leverages today’s more advanced capabilities of in-memory computing, machine learning and analytics to support automated decision-making and resource balancing. IoT married to machine learning and more predictive analytics pays near-term dividends for current service management processes as well as future, more robust business models.

In our four-part Supply Chain Matters market education series, A Path Towards Internet of Things Enabled Service Management, in collaboration with supply chain planning and service parts technology provider ToolsGroup, we will help readers to understand and be able to articulate the following:

  • The current state of service and spare parts planning processes and why tailored service parts planning capabilities so different than other forms of supply chain planning? Why is it increasingly becoming fundamental to any service management process and why are so many equipment manufacturers currently investing in this capability?
  • How does a robust service parts planning capability play a foundational role in an Internet of Things (IoT) enabled environment? How does such capabilities, augmented by new advanced technologies, enhancing the effectiveness of an overall IoT integrated process?
  • What are the overall benefits for customers and to the business, and what are some current-day examples? How is this best articulated to the C-Suite? Why equipment manufacturers and services providers are already on this path?

Join us over the coming weeks as we dive deeper into each of these topical areas reflecting on how to build the foundations for both a robust, more efficient, and less costly service parts planning capability as well as laying the critical foundation for new IoT enabled service management business models.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

 


2017 Predictions for Supply Chain Management- Guest Contributions

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We just completed our unveiling and deep-dives on our 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains and the complete 44-page Research Advisory report is now available for complimentary downloading in our Research Center.

We now feature compilations of the many external guest contributions that were received from our readers.  holding the future 300x211 2017 Predictions for Supply Chain Management  Guest Contributions

A Thailand and Southeast Asia Perspective

In mid-January, this author noted a published report from Thailand’s Bangkok Post, The state of supply chain management in 2017.   This article was penned by two supply chain consultants with extensive experience in Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia and observed: “that most supply chains still struggle with the basics and are not in any position to realise benefits from new tools and technologies.” We reached out by email to authors Barry Elliott and Chris Catto-Smith, (acknowledged  readers of Supply Chain Matters) and received very insightful additional feedback comments. Each has been practicing supply chain management consultants in this region for the best part of 20 years. Responding to our specific question as to whether their observations vary from one industry or another, or in upper or lower tiers of the supply chain, the response was no, it does not. “Little advantage is taken of the SCM body of knowledge, partly due to not knowing what they (SCM teams) don’t know and partly due to NIH (not invented here).” Clarified was that there are certainly shiny exceptions but interest levels to learn and implement the basics are somewhat challenging.

We share this input because it provided us a grounding to the realization that not all geographic regions feature the same capabilities and tendencies toward transformation, and that should remain an important context towards planning of 2017 initiatives and skills development.

 

Supply Chain Skills and Talent Management

Employee reference check provider AllisonTaylor shared Noteworthy Trends to Watch in the Career and Work Balance area to share with Supply Chain Matters readers.

  • Workplace well-being and flexibility has risen dramatically in importance and becomes critical for attracting new talent.
  • As highly tech-savvy employees continue to enter the workplace, new internal communications tools such as text messaging, live chat and instant messaging will increasingly replace traditional email.
  • Blended workplaces, where freelance workers team up with full-time employees, become increasingly predominant.
  • The reference checking process takes an unconventional turn as employer’s are more likely to call job seeker’s former supervisors, rather than follow traditional routes of contacting HR.
  • References become a powerful extension of a job seeker’s resume.
  • Virtual reality tools begin to revolutionize recruiting and training.

 

Business and Supply Chain Technology

Fusion Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Paul Romano shares his predictions for 2017.

  • Memory will continue to be an issue. Memory manufacturers have finally gotten what they wanted- increases in ASP’s after years of drought and cuts. The good news for them is that the end does not seem to be in sight. A convergence of factors will continue to    drive issues in memory. We may see things let up there and there but expect problems to exist for much of the year.
  • The pace of mergers and acquisitions will not let After a year that saw some blockbuster M&A’s, many are hoping to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude. Not so fast. With business picking up in many sectors, companies are looking for ways to expand as well as round out portfolios and offerings. Expect the M&A activity to continue     unabated into 2017.
  • The sharing economy comes to the supply Companies such as Uber and Airbnb ushered in the      sharing economy. Next up, the supply chain. Most efforts have been directed towards the consumer. However, as interconnectivity and the concept of the digital supply chain gain traction, expect to see attempts to create efficiencies and opportunities around the supply chain. Uber is already in the package delivery business; could we see an Airbnb app for  short-term use of unused factory, warehouse, or line space, perhaps?
  • 3D Printing becomes the disruptive technology many predicted two years ago.
  • The outcome of the Brexit negotiations is already affecting trade flows between the UK and the EU and leaves a big question mark on how big or small the impact will be.    This can potentially devaluate the Euro even more against the dollar which will impact European OEM’s trading in USD.

 

2017 Predictions Related to the Food Industry

We spoke with Bill Michalski, Chief Solution Officer at ArrowStream, A SaaS technology provider for food service supply chains, concerning his predictions for the food industry. His input was that the number one priority for 2017 is making food safety and traceability a top priority and would remain the largest area of focus in the near future as-well. In our discussion, Michalski emphasized that the year ahead will reflect the notions of when urgency meets the reality of food safety in terms of full product traceability for any given restaurant chain. A further challenge remains off-contract purchasing and non-vetted suppliers among larger food chains. Michalski concurs that traceability and supply chain sustainability initiatives can be linked for broader business benefits.

 

Service Parts Inventory Management

Synchron’s CMO Gary Brooks’s 2017 Technology Supply Chain Predictions calls for service parts inventory management and pricing optimization to grow in interest because of the increasing realization that both capabilities are key revenue levers for the aftersales supply chain. Brooks further predicts that Cloud-based technology has become critical for the supply chain and that adoption rates will rise further. “Supply chain players will need to embrace the full potential of cloud technology or risk falling even further behind in 2017.” Other predictions are that predictive analytics will finally be mainstream in the supply chain and aftersales market, and that driverless vehicles and drones play a bigger role in supply chain.

 

If there are any other 2017 Predictions that readers would like to share, please send them along and we will compile them for sharing.

 

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2016. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


Supply Chain Matters Impressions of PTC LiveWorx 16 Internet of Things Technology Conference- Part Two

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Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Internet of Things (IoT) technology provider PTC held its annual LiveWorx 16 IoT conference in Boston last week amid over 4500 attendees. Supply Chain Matters in the person of this industry analyst was invited to once again attend this annual event and walked away with varying impressions regarding the state of IoT adoption and on some shifts among PTC’s ongoing product strategies.

In our previous Part One commentary, we shared various overall impressions, insights and takeaways. In this Part Two posting, we share additional impressions.

Prediction Seven within our 2016 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains (available for complimentary download in our Research Center) anticipated that B2b focused manufacturers and services providers would broaden their perspectives on connected devices and enhancing customer needs, but also stumble because of conflicts in approach, conflicts in stakeholder interests or data silo approaches. We were therefore especially eager to attend the LiveWorx panel discussion featuring select PTC partners. This panel consisted of executives from Cognizant, Dell, Flowserve, Glassbeam, HP Enterprise, National Instruments, ServiceMax and SAP.

Most all of these panelists observed that for now, most customers are not seeking out a specific IoT initiative per-se. Instead, they are seeking technology to assist in resolving use cases involving ongoing business challenges in manufacturing or supply chain or tapping new business opportunities and revenue streams. One panelist indicated that the current hype surrounding IoT has many teams “scratching their heads” in terms of selecting start points or understanding what business problems IoT will solve. From our lens, that reflects a need for broader market education.

Where projects lean toward IoT, the sales and approval cycle tends to be elongated, cited in the range of 6-12 months, with indications that discussion with up to 7 people representing different business functions such as IT, manufacturing, service management and other functions are involved.

Regarding project ROI, the panel indicated that IoT related projects must address definitive returns to the business in areas such as moving the revenue needle, avoidance of expensive downtime particularly in process intensive industry settings, safety of operations and of-course, enhanced customer service and response.

Another common challenge cited by panelists was the need for ubiquitous connectivity of networks, both in broadband Internet connections and mobile devices. Noted was that today, many customers do not have the scalable networks to support the large amounts of data flow implied by IoT use cases, along with the perception that doing so now would be cost prohibitive. One panelist questioned the large amounts of “junk” data now being collected.

As noted in our Part One posting, information and data security remains a top customer concern with panelists indicating that a lot of additional multi-industry education remains to be done. A separate panelist noted this as consistently one of the top three concerns from any customer. One panelist with lots of experience in process based industry observed that industry already has data security standards that are well-understood. This panelist pointed out that the controller domain will always be protected by separate protocols than the data extract domain.

One other area we wanted to highlight for our readers was the topic of what is commonly termed agile engineering.  This is practice commonly adapted by software and technology companies that promotes the creation of scrum teams that conduct frequent product prototypes, gaining immediate customer feedback on a proposed new product, and moving forward with yet another improved prototype until the ultimate product is released.  With more multi-industry products now having more and more technology and software content, classic “waterfall” engineering processes have a hard time keeping up with needs for constant agility. Readers may note the common thread among equipment product recalls of-late has been problems with the functioning software component or needs to update that software to address hardware issues.

PTC executives addressed this specific challenge in the industry analyst and press briefing, along with why they believe that augmenting PLM processes with more AR and VR tools can help support more agile engineering needs. To help in this effort, PTC is sponsoring specific thought leadership for customers to more fully understand agile engineering needs and requirements.

We did manage to attend a couple of breakout sessions focused on Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) and specifically customer efforts to upgrade older versions of either MCA or Xelus service parts planning application to PTC’s latest releases.  From the customer presentations we observed, the upgrade process was reported in positive terms. What was more interesting was the motivations for upgrading, which ranged from internal business changes or consolidation to needs to upgrade to more modern and more advanced planning capabilities.

Finally, during the executive Q&A, PTC CEO Heppelmann indicated that he does not expect PTC to get any more deeply involved in supply chain management focused IoT application needs.  Rather, PTC will allow its partner network to address SCM business and process needs utilizing PTC technology platform and applications.

Overall, LiveWorx 16 was a much more productive and educational conference this year, one that reflected on PTC making its own transitions into the current realities of the current Industrial IoT market.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2016. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


Not a Good Week and Time for Automotive Service Management Supply Chains

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For service facing and aftermarket automotive related supply chains, news developments this week have undoubtedly bordered on the surreal or even bizarre.

The ongoing product recall crisis involving airbag inflators’ producer by Takata took on even broader dimensions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated this week that as many as 85 million potentially defective airbag inflators are still inside cars and trucks now being driven across the United States. That number is supposedly in addition to the nearly 29 million inflators that have already been designated for replacement in the ongoing massive product recall campaign.  Reports indicate that thus far, at least 11 people have died and over 400 have been injured by defective airbag inflators.

There are many facets compounding this overall logistical challenge. NHTSA itself indicates that because of inadequate reporting information from automotive producers, the agency does not exactly know how many vehicles are exposed to potentially defective airbag inflators that were produced by Takata. There are also multiple inflators installed in every vehicle. Add to this, that previous replaced inflators were not properly designed, causing a second recall.

As Supply Chain Matters has noted in our previous commentaries regarding this industry recall challenge, the problem of premature explosion of the inflators has been linked to long-term exposure to high humidity.  Thus the failure profile can be linked to specific U.S. states whose climate matches such humidity, such as Florida and the U.S. Gulf Coast states. One potential fix to the problem has been the addition of dessicant drying agent material to the inflator to lessen the moisture caused by high humidity.  That obviously implies a separate part identity.

The far broader problem is the sheer scope of the potential campaign. The government is not even sure it has the authority to mandate a recall of such volume and with such monetary implications. With a potential of over 100 million inflators having to be eventually replaced, the recall campaign would obviously exceed current capacity for producing replacement parts, implying multiple years of effort.  The sheer volume is of the magnitude of supporting the redesign of multiple new models of automobiles and trucks and would have to involve many more airbag inflator suppliers.  As Supply Chain Matters noted earlier week, suppliers such as Autoliv have already benefited from the crisis, and with such massive numbers, other suppliers will benefit as well. And then there is the biggest question of all, who will pay for all of the replacement parts and installation costs.

The Donald Trump analogy of: “This is a HUGE problem” is an appropriate descriptor.

This saga and its implications will obviously test the limits of automotive service supply chains and dealers for many months to come.

Then the industry has the diesel engine emissions crisis involving certain Volkswagen produced models. Since our prior commentaries in late 2015, we have refrained from other updates because of the sheer kaleidoscope of bizarre actions by Volkswagen.  First there was the sacking of senior corporate product design and quality executives.  Then came the sacking of the top U.S. executive Michael Horn, who was revered by U.S. dealers, after Horn supposedly proposed monetary gestures to affected vehicle owners.

While the global auto maker has initiated a product recall plan for affected vehicles in Europe, the deadline for a plan to address polluting vehicles in the U.S. has come and gone and remains somewhat a work-in-progress.  According to industry reports, VW continues to face upwards of $20 billion in potential fines as well as class-action lawsuits, not to mention a rather tense ongoing relationships with U.S. regulators and legislative bodies as well as its U.S. dealers.

Meanwhile VW senior executives had the shear nerve to position themselves for management bonuses. That had drawn the ire of executives of the IG Metall trade union who are influential members of the company’s Supervisory Board. The news this week is that executive bonuses have now been squashed by that board.  Details related to future actions that VW will take related to a recall plan for the U.S. are not expected until VW’s board of directors meets later this month to review various investigative reports related to the U.S. emissions scandal.

The VW service management supply chain remains with lots of pending challenges and unknowns. Thousands of in-service diesel-powered vehicles may be subject to costly vehicle hardware and software fixes that potentially will involve significant labor hours per vehicle. Unsold diesel-powered vehicles remain in dealer lots awaiting a disposition as well. If a vehicle recall is initiated, individual owners are likely to very intolerant to repair times that extend over many, many months. Then again, what-if VW elects to buy-back certain models? That’s a reverse supply chain challenge in the making.

Overall, automotive service management supply chains remain stressed and face unprecedented process and execution challenges in the coming months and years. There is obvious learning that will come from this ongoing multi-brand crisis, involving product-design, supplier quality and supplier management dimensions. Many consumers will be impacted and will get first-hand knowledge of the effects.

Bob Ferrari

 


A Good Tutorial in Inventory Management vs. Optimization

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This Editor was recently alerted to a blog posting penned by Anders Remneback appearing on The Innovators Solution blog hosted by supply chain planning software provider ToolsGroup. We are bringing this to the attention of our Supply Chain Matters readers because of its timeliness to the increasing complexity involved in planning an Omni-channel focused supply chain.

This posting, What’s wrong with ABC inventory classification?, explains why traditional ABC inventory planning process methodology, which is anchored in an operational or logistics planning perspective lacks a connection to customer fulfillment or sales and marketing needs. In this context, the author helps the reader to differentiate what is often termed to be “inventory management” vs. “inventory optimization.”

Inventory optimization techniques allow the flexibility in the use of what is termed “service classes” which in essence are customer fulfillment service needs. Inventory optimization techniques in essence, calculate “stock-to- service” curves, optimizing individual service and safety stock levels to an SKU location. As noted by the author:

The inventory optimization software automatically calculates a service level for every SKU-Location that aggregates to the total service level target for the overall service class, achieving “service level optimization“.”

This argument is especially pertinent to producers of consumer focused goods which are increasingly being planned for Omni-channel fulfillment. As we have pointed out to readers, online Omni-channel needs are driving a new wave of SKU (item level) proliferation explosion because of the needs of various fulfillment channels. Trying to plan such landscapes with traditional ABC inventory management techniques is sub-optimal and inefficient in terms of overall inventory management.  This is especially pertinent for retailers attempting to fulfill customer needs from a centralized inventory management approach, one that balances inventory needs for both traditional brick-and-mortar retail as well as online channel needs.

Once more, with today’s increasing advancements and cost efficiencies in in-memory and database streaming technologies, multi-echelon inventory optimization technology can be far more affordable from certain software vendors and is increasingly being integrated into supply chain planning application suites.

A final observation to share is the following. Many supply chain organizations that adopted supply chain planning software in the past opted to deploy heuristics vs. full optimization techniques. At the time, the reasons were perhaps justified in terms of supply chain profile, overall size of planning data to be managed along with technology skills adaptability at the time. Many organizations felt that heuristics based planning techniques would be more supportive of more response based planning processes, those which adopt a continuous net-change planning approach.

This author is of the view that such practices should be re-examined, especially in the light of multi-echelon inventory optimization vs. generalized inventory management and replenishment. The new world of Omni-channel fulfillment brings its own set of customer fulfillment service goal attainment, overall inventory investment and gross margin goals for any line-of-business. Generalized planning without the use of targeted optimization coupled with more predictive analytics simply will not suffice in Omni-channel fulfillment.

Bob Ferrari


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